3 easy ways to save for retirement

Three easy ways to save for retirement

Saving for retirement can be as appealing to some people as exercising is to those who dread working out. Everyone knows they should be doing it. But, for some, actually doing it seems too strenuous, too difficult.

More than half of workers report having less than $25,000 dollars in total household savings and investments, excluding their home and any pension plans, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute. But there are plenty of ways to save without even breaking a sweat. Here are three easy strategies to add more money to your nest egg:

Find free money

Start with your employer. About half of employers offer a retirement plan, such as a 401(k) plan, and many make matching contributions to them. If that's the case, put enough of your own money in the retirement plan to qualify for the free money of the employer match.

Many different formulas are used to determine employer matching contributions. About 40 percent of employers that offer a retirement plan have a fixed match of 50 cents per $1 up to a specified percentage of pay, usually 6 percent. The average company contribution in 401k plans is 2.7 percent of pay, according to

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More than one-third of 401(k) plans match dollar for dollar. A recent Financial Engines report found one in four employees do not maximize their employer match, leaving about $1,336 a year on the table; that yearly loss adds up to about $42,855 over 20 years.

Ask for a raise

More than half of employers fully expect current and prospective employees to negotiate for more money, according to a survey from survey.

It usually pays off to ask for a raise. Salary and benefits information company found that the higher your annual salary, the more likely you are to receive a raise—if you ask for it. So ask for it.

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If you do manage to get a little bump in pay, put that extra amount into your retirement savings. Why? Even adding a small amount to your investments each pay period will be worthwhile when it comes time for retirement.

Check your 401(k) fees

A 401(k) plan is a great retirement savings vehicle, but it is not free. When you add up all of the administrative costs and investment expenses, the "all-in" fee for your 401(k) can run from 0.29 percent to 1.29 percent of the assets, according to report from Deloitte and the Investment Company Institute. For 401(k) plans at smaller companies, those fees could reach 2 to 3 percent, according to the 401k Averages Book.

Those fees can really eat into your nest egg. Financial information company BrightScope offers free online tools to compare your employer's 401(k) plan fees with those of similar-sized companies.

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To reduce those fees, you can adjust your investment mix to include more lower-cost index mutual funds. Use online tools at FINRA to help you calculate the expenses of funds in your 401(k) based on current and prospective holdings.